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The mythology of the ancient Basques largely did not survive the arrival of Christianity in the Basque Country between the 4th and 12th century AD. Most of what is known about elements of this original belief system is based on the analysis of legends, the study of place names and scant historical references to pagan rituals practised by the Basques.
Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.
Toponymy or toponomastics is the study of place names (toponyms), their origins, meanings, use and typology.
One main figure of this belief system was the female goddess Mari. According to legends collected in the area of Ataun, the other main figure was her consort Sugaar. However, due to the scarcity of the material, it is difficult to say if this would have been the "central pair" of the Basque pantheon. Based on the attributes ascribed to these mythological creatures, this would be considered a chthonic religion as all its characters dwell on earth or below it, with the sky seen mostly as an empty corridor through which the divinities pass.
Mari, also called Mari Urraca, Anbotoko Mari, and Murumendiko Dama is the goddess of the Basques. She is married to the god Sugaar. Legends connect her to the weather: when she and Maju travel together hail will fall, her departures from her cave will be accompanied by storms or droughts, and which cave she lives in at different times will determine dry or wet weather: wet when she is in Anboto; dry when she is elsewhere. Other places where she is said to dwell include the chasm of Murumendi, the cave of Gurutzegorri (Ataun), Aizkorri and Aralar, although it is not always possible to be certain which Basque legends should be considered as the origin.
Ataun is a town located at the foot of the Aralar Range in the Goierri region of the province of Gipuzkoa, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country, in the north of Spain.
In Basque mythology, Sugaar is the male half of a pre-Christian Basque deity associated with storms and thunder. He is normally imagined as a dragon or serpent. Unlike his female consort, Mari, there are very few remaining legends about Sugaar. The basic purpose of his existence is to periodically join with Mari in the mountains to generate the storms.
The main sources for information about non-Christian Basque beliefs are:
Strabo was a Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian who lived in Asia Minor during the transitional period of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.
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Aymeric Picaud was a 12th-century French scholar, monk and pilgrim from Parthenay-le-Vieux in Poitou. He is most widely known today as being the suspected author of the Codex Calixtinus, an illuminated manuscript giving background information for pilgrims travelling the Way of St. James. In essence, he wrote one of the earliest known tourist guidebooks.
Urtzi may or may not have been a Basque mythological figure. There is evidence that can be read as either supporting or contradicting the existence of such a deity. To date neither theory has been able to convince fully.
The Iberian Peninsula's Indo-European cultures like the Lusitanians and Celtiberians seem to have a significant Basque substrate in their mythologies. This includes the concept of the Enchanted Mouras, which may be based on the Mairu,and the god Endovelicus, whose name may come from proto-Basque words.
The Lusitanians were an Indo-European people living in the west of the Iberian Peninsula prior the conquest by the Roman Republic and the subsequent incorporation of the territory into the Roman province of Lusitania.
The Celtiberians were a group of Celts and Celticized peoples inhabiting the central-eastern Iberian Peninsula during the final centuries BC. They were explicitly mentioned as being Celts by several classic authors. These tribes spoke the Celtiberian language and wrote it by adapting the Iberian alphabet. The numerous inscriptions that have been discovered, some of them extensive, have allowed scholars to classify the Celtiberian language as a Celtic language, one of the Hispano-Celtic languages that were spoken in pre-Roman and early Roman Iberia. Archaeologically, many elements link Celtiberians with Celts in Central Europe, but also show large differences with both the Hallstatt culture and La Tène culture.
The Enchanted moura or, moura encantada is a supernatural being from the fairy tales of Portuguese and Galician folklore. Very beautiful and seductive, she lives under an imposed occult spell. Shapeshifters, the mouras encantadas occupy liminal spaces and are builders with stone of formidable strength.
After Christianization, the Basques kept producing and importing myths.
The Basques are a European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a common culture and shared genetic ancestry to the ancient Vascones and Aquitanians. Basques are indigenous to and primarily inhabit an area traditionally known as the Basque Country, a region that is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.
Basque nationalism, is a form of nationalism that asserts that Basques, an ethnic group indigenous to the western Pyrenees, are a nation, and promotes the political unity of the Basques, today scattered between Spain and France. Since its inception in the late 19th century, Basque nationalism has included separatist movements.
In comparative mythology, sky father is a term for a recurring concept in polytheistic religions of a sky god who is addressed as a "father", often the father of a pantheon and is often either reigning or former King of the Gods. The concept of "sky father" may also be taken to include Sun gods with similar characteristics, such as Ra. The concept is complementary to an "earth mother".
Olentzero is a character in Basque Christmas tradition. According to Basque traditions Olentzero comes to town late at night on the 24th of December to drop off presents for children. In some places he arrives later, for example in Ochagavía – Otsagabia on the 27th and in Ermua on the 31st.
The Basque Country is the name given to the home of the Basque people. The Basque country is located in the western Pyrenees, straddling the border between France and Spain on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. Euskal Herria is the oldest documented Basque name for the area they inhabit, dating from the 16th century.
Mairu, also called Maideak, Mairiak, Saindi Maidi, Intxisu in the Bidasoa valley are creatures of Basque mythology. They were giants who built dolmens or harrespil. Like the dolmens, they are only found in mountains. They are often associated with lamia, though these are known in all the Basque Country.
Urtzi is a Basque term which either represents an old common noun for the sky, or is the name for a pre-Christian sky deity.
Communist Movement of Euskadi was originally the branch of the Communist Movement (MC) in Basque Country and Navarre, Spain. EMK was previously known as ETA Berri, a splinter group of ETA. EMK separated itself from MC in 1983. In 1991 EMK merged with LKI and formed Zutik in Basque Country. In Navarre EMK took part in forming Batzarre. Some of its most prominent leaders were Patxi Iturrioz, Eugenio del Río, Rosa Olivares Txertudi, Milagros Rubio, Jesús Urra Bidaurre and the brothers Javier and Ignacio Álvarez Dorronsoro.
A triple deity is three deities that are worshipped as one. Such deities are common throughout world mythology; the number three has a long history of mythical associations. Carl Jung considered the arrangement of deities into triplets an archetype in the history of religion.
Sorginak are the assistants of the goddess Mari in Basque mythology. It is also the Basque name for witches or pagan priestesses, it being difficult to distinguish between the mythological and real ones.
Although the first instances of coherent Basque phrases and sentences go as far back as the San Millán glosses of around 950, the large-scale damage done by periods of great instability and warfare, such as the clan wars of the Middle Ages, the Carlist Wars and the Spanish Civil War, led to the scarcity of written material predating the 16th century.
The Basque Country, officially the Basque Autonomous Community is an autonomous community in northern Spain. It includes the Basque provinces of Álava, Biscay, and Gipuzkoa.
José Luis Álvarez Enparantza, better known by his pseudonym Txillardegi, was a Basque linguist, politician and writer from Spain. Born in San Sebastián, he did not learn the Basque language until the age of 17, but came to be considered one of the most influential figures in Basque nationalism and culture in the second half of the 20th century.
Salazarese is the Basque dialect of the Salazar Valley of Navarre, Spain.
The Day of the Geese, also known as Antzar Eguna, is a competition held as part of the San Antolín festival in the Basque fishing-town of Lekeitio, in which participants attempt to decapitate a goose suspended on a rope above the town harbor.
The Betizu is a breed of small mountain cattle which live in a semi-feral state in some mountainous parts of the Basque Country in both Spain and France. It is classified as an endangered breed by both the Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación, the agriculture ministry of Spain, and by the Conservatoire des Races d'Aquitaine in France.
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Akerbeltz or Aker is a spirit in the folk mythology of the Basque people. It is said to live inside the land and is believed to have has many elves as servants. In Christianity, Akerbeltz is considered the live image of the demon, performing sexual abuses against members of pagan covens.
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